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Hunts County II vs Melbourn I (1st February)

Melbourn won 19-5

Melbourn men’s 1st squash team travelled away to Hunts County this week. This had been a fairly uncontested match in the first half, followed by excellent food and drinks at the Plough – a very enjoyable evening. However, this second half re-match was going to prove a little more taxing for the travelling team.
All started well at 5 string with Ed Aspelling controlling his usual match nerves with a positive outlook against a keen opponent. Both had solid match play and high levels of effort, but fortunately it was Ed who held most of the finishing touches enabling him to have a relatively simple 3-0 win: 15-7, 15-8, 15-5. Mark Oppen at 4 enjoyed the luxury of playing on the show court and very much looked in control in the first. His opponent had other ideas and challenged Mark in the next two, with the Melbourn skipper unexpectedly going 2-1 down. Redoubling his efforts and finding better focus and greater accuracy, his opponent began to tire allowing Oppen to capitalise and take the next two and a 3-2 victory: 15-9, 12-15, 9-15, 15-11, 15-9!
Kate Bradshaw had been showing some good form of late and went on court feeling confident. This played out as hoped with Bradshaw taking a fairly easy 2-0 lead. That was all about to change... With a marked lowering of standard in the third game from Bradshaw who lost focus, her opponent managed to edge his way back in, finding some luck with his shots. Losing the third, Bradshaw tried to up her game again for the fourth. At 8-10 down she served, moved to the T, but was then struck in the back of the knee by an errant ball off her opponent’s racket. Time was called for ice to be administered but after a ten-minute break, play restarted. It was an exceedingly closely contested game but one which Bradshaw lost 15-17. The fifth played out all too similarly. The Melbourn player just couldn’t quite find the form from the first two games and allowed some frustration to creep in. The match ended up 3-2 against Bradshaw, 13-15 in the last game – a salutary lesson in not losing concentration when the going is all too easy..!
The final two matches were much less dramatic with both 2 string Vinod Duraikan and 1 string Matt Sampson playing reliably solid and sensible squash. Duraikan’s opponent had some lovely touches and delicate drop shots, but his fitness was not up to the same standard and the Melbourn player was able to win convincingly: 15-10, 15-5, 15-4. Sampson’s opponent is a quality player who unfortunately has an ongoing injury. There was plenty of top-notch squash at the back of the court and down the walls, but as soon as Sampson took the ball in short, his opponent was in difficulty with his movement. The Melbourn number 1 took his match 15-6, 15-8, 15-5.
So, another broadly successful night for the Melbourn team, with a couple of very tight matches in the middle. Skipper Oppen commented: “the match was won convincingly from our 1, 2 & 5 seeded players. Although at 3 & 4 seeds it wasn't as straight-forward, the points from those matches helped achieve the 19-5 overall team result - which was only one point less than our first half result showing we are consistent”.